I have been curious about snowboarding for a long time, and last Sunday Hunter Mountain invited me to check out a new package they have for beginners called the “Single Pack” which includes equipment rental, a 90-minute progression zone lesson, and a lower mountain lift ticket (or carpet ride ticket) for $79. I arrived there around 12:45pm, and Becky Pines, marketing and communications manager for Hunter Mountain, helped me check-in and get my gear. At that hour it is not crowded at all though so it was very smooth sailing. You can do a self check-in via computer, and then from there everything is easy to find. Helmets are strongly encouraged. (I bought my snazzy new ski goggles on sale at Potter Brothers hoping that I enjoy the sport enough to use them again one day!).
Once I got my gear, Becky sent me on my way and I was told to stand by the orange flags and an instructor would lead a group lesson soon. On weekends the group lessons are organized in a Progression Sessions Zones on-demand from 9am-2pm. The lessons are 90 minutes long. I hobbled over to Zone 1, carrying my snowboard for the first time. There was a young man there eagerly waiting, then two women joined us. Our instructor Dave, a young laid back guy joined us and gave us a crash course on snowboarding lingo. At this point, he showed us how to strap one boot on to the board. He was very patient with me. I’m a tough case. No, I’ve never skateboarded or been on a surf board, and the last time I went skiing Clinton was in office.
I’m reasonably fit, but snowboarding requires you to use all kinds of muscles and movements you just don’t use in every day life. I was nervous. I struggled to even get my boot in the snowboard strap, and at one point I heaved over losing my balance in the process. “Whoa, I got ya!” he said, catching my forward fall. At first members of the group took turns attempting beginner moves turning toe-side and heel side, and then after a few falls and successes, everyone practiced on their own while the instructors looked on offering suggestions here and there. Dave saw me struggling, trying to walk up the hill sideways with my one boot strapped on, and taught me a better way to walk up the hill. I was grateful for that. I soon moved on to Zone 2, where instructor Marty was trying to teach us how to stop and turn. I never quite made it to Zone 3.
It was a gorgeous 45F and sunny day. I wore thin leggings underneath a snowsuit, and a sweater. I was perspiring like crazy, and very thirsty, but my endorphins were in high gear, even though every time I went down that gentle slope, and tried following instructions (keep your knees bent slightly, lean into your heels to have control of the board, dip your shoulder this way and that), I’d crash land. Twice I landed on my behind, and twice I landed on my arms. Landing on your buttocks is a lot better! Once I landed at the foot of a clueless couple who were kissing as they waited to go on the carpet ride. I had in my mind to try the Carpet Lift, but you really have to be comfortable and have both boots strapped in to be able to go on it, and it was a challenge for me to just navigate the bunny slope we were using for our lesson so I told myself that I’d save that for next time.
There are 3 Zones in the Progression Session that Hunter Mountain offers between 9am and 2pm for beginners. I think I ended up in Zone 2.5. As the instructors will tell you, everyone learns at their own pace. What I learned is that when it comes to snowboarding, I’m a very slow learner. I think it is mind over body though. One young woman in my group, got the hang of it right away, and just sailed on through the Zones. That is a great thing about the Progression Session is that if there are slow pokes in your group, and you are coasting through the lessons, you can just move on to the next zone independently. I had fun trying snowboarding, but I knew that I wasn’t getting it yet. Dave and Marty kept on saying, how once you get it, then all of a sudden it’s easy and fun. After 90 minutes and a few texts from my husband enticing me with donuts, I felt winded from the exertion of my first snowboarding lesson. I asked Marty if I was free to go. He said I could stay until 4pm if I wished, but everyone is free to go as they please.
After one last attempt down hill, Marty asked me, “So, what made you decide to try snowboarding?” I guess my snowboarding moves did not impress him. He must think I’m an undercover customer. I had to laugh! That’s when I told him about Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog, and that it is something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. The Catskills are well known for snowsports and I want to be able to share my adventures with readers. (What I forgot to tell him was how I loved watching snowboarding portion of the Winter Olympics, and what I loved most about the female snowboarders, was that they all seemed to just want to go out there for the fun of it, and competition seemed secondary. I loved their outfits too.
I grabbed two bottles of water after I returned my equipment, and my husband picked me up. As I was returning my snowboard, I overheard a French woman tell her companion,”Franchement, je préféré m’asseoir au soleil maintenant.” Loosely translated: Honestly, I prefer to just sit in the sun right now. I was feeling the same way, but very happy to have had the experience. My husband told me I had a “snowboarder’s glow” when he picked me up. If you are thinking of trying out snowboarding, Hunter Mountain is a great place to do it. They just announced yesterday that they are extending their season until at least April 13th in 2014 with new specials. You can check them out at “March Into Spring Pass” at the Hunter Mountain website.
Follow Vanessa Ahern at Hudson Valley Good Stuff, a blog about where to eat, play & recharge your spirit in the Hudson Valley.
I don't go in for the tweedly-idly music—the blarney and the clover and the Irish rover; all that twee fiddling and keening and lamenting about the plight of the poor, persecuted Irish. Yet as my name (Brian Keiran Mahoney)suggests, I am of Irish extraction. My grandfather, Patrick O'Mahony came across on a boat in 1921 after he and his brothers ran afoul of the Black and Tans, a British militia fighting the IRA. (So now you know what you're ordering, fine sons and daughters of Ireland, when you order a Black and Tan.)
But just because I don't like the mandolin and the Clancy Brothers doesn't mean I don't love to rock out to Thin Lizzy, U2, or that most glorious and shambolic of Irish bands, the Pogues. (Frontman Shane McGowan could keep a team of dentists at work round-the-clock for weeks. And a liver specialist undoubtedly.)
After the Shamrock Run and the St. Patrick's Day parade in Kingston on Sunday, BSP will host its second annual ShamROCK Fest, featuring The Ruffians, MacCana, the T-McCann band, and Pogues tribute band County Hell. The Gaelic revelry begins at 4pm. It's $10 to get in.
Stone, who plays violin, guitar, and percussion, has perhaps been most visible in the Hudson Valley via her membership in Simone Felice’s short-lived project the Duke and the King. She’s also performed with comedian Denis Leary’s band on Conan O’Brien’s television show, “Conan”; led Slithy Toves, Suffrajet, and other bands; and shared stages with the Roots, Erykah Badu, Conor Oberst, Natalie Merchant, Cheap Trick, Urge Overkill, and Joan Jett. Stone’s crowd-funded, soon-to-be-released solo album features drummer Zack Alford (Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Vernon Reid) and bassists Sara Lee (Gang of Four, B-52s, Ani DiFranco) and Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie, Tears for Fears).
Simi Stone will perform at the Falcon in Marlboro, New York, on March 17, 24, and 31 at 8pm. Donation requested. For more information, call (845) 236-7970 or visit http://www.liveatthefalcon.com/.
At the classes, which take place March 12 and April 2, Byron, who doubles on saxophone, will discuss topics related to jazz performance, including jazz theory, jazz improvisation, George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic concept, and the state of jazz in today’s society. The residency will conclude with the concert on April 12.
The master classes will be held on March 12 and April 2 at 1pm in Room 147 of Vanderlyn Hall on the SUNY Ulster campus in Stone Ridge, New York. The concert by the Don Byron New Gospel Quintet takes place at 7pm in the College Lounge. Both the classes and the concert are free and open to the public. For more information, call (845) 687-5000 or visit https://www.sunyulster.edu/.
The only thing better than a check in the mail or a thoughtful card, is a box of cookies! Last week 4:00 O'clock Cookie, a specialty cookie company based in Rye sent me a box of cookies to review. They are low-mdeium glycemic, and made with all kinds of healthy ingredients. I didn't feel overly guilty or gross after eating them. Debra Holstein, the branding expert and mastermind of the 4:00 Cookie, has been in the branding and innovation business for over 20 years. She also created an 8:00 muffin and homemade granola.
I tasted the Fig, Coconut & Dark Chocolate, the Wild Blueberry Almond, the gluten-free Chewy Chocolate Chip, the Cherry Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut, and the Cranberry Trail Mix. I really enjoyed all of them, but I'd have to say the Cherry Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut is my favorite because the cherry dark chocolate just gave it an extra decadent bite. It's nice to read the back of food label and recognize all the ingredients: whole grains, oats, flax, nuts, fruit, bittersweet chocolate and coconut sugar. The 4:00 Cookie was created to give you a boost around mid-afternoon when you need a little boost of energy to get you to dinner time. The cookies are sold at different markets and retailers in Westchester. Visit their website to find out where to buy them or order them online. The cookies stay fresh in their package for two weeks. If you are not going to eat them right away, put them in the freezer.
I confess I broke the rules and had a few for breakfast! Despite their name, I think they are good any time of day.
Follow Vanessa Geneva Ahern's blog Hudson Valley Good Stuff to find out where to eat, play & recharge your spirit in the Hudson Valley.
In our Hudson Valley, the victims of domestic violence have a place to go. The door is always open at Grace Smith House in Poughkeepsie, which opened in 1981 as a crisis shelter and has since expanded its range of services to include counseling, advocacy, education, community consciousness-raising, and public policy work.
Youth education is key, since abusive relationship patterns can take hold as early as the teen years. On Monday, March 10, the Grace Smith House is hosting its "Love Shouldn't Hurt Conference" for a select group of teens from Dutchess and Orange counties. The high school and college students will convene for talks and breakout groups, and will come away with greater awareness and a sense of empowerment.
While the teen conference is not open to the general public, Grace Smith House's 2014 Spring Brunch & Auction will welcome all. Tickets for the fundraiser, to be held on Sunday, April 6, at Christo's in Poughkeepsie, start at $65. To learn more, or to get involved as a volunteer, contact the Grace Smith House at 845-452-7155.
Instant help for domestic violence victims is available through GSH's 24-hour hotline: 845-471-3033.
The Matthew Shipp Trio will perform at Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York, on March 15 at 7pm. Tickets are $15. For more information, call (518) 272-2390 or visit http://www.mediasanctuary.org/.
Our mouths water at sight of the best restaurant in town, which is sometimes the most expensive. Even if we’re starving we walk right on by, unwilling to spend what could potentially be an entire paycheck on a single meal. “Maybe I’ll go there for a special occasion someday,” we tell ourselves—someday starts now.
Valley Table magazine’s Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is the occasion we’ve been pining for. From March 10 through the 23rd, a gourmet three-course lunch is about the cost of two Big Mac meals ($20.95) and a three-course dinner is just $29.95. For 14 holy days, our wallets need not be sacrificed for a dream dining experience.
This year, more than 180 restaurants are participating in the prix-fixe festival that seems too good to be true. There are no sign-ups and no tickets to buy. Simply choose a restaurant (or two, or 10) on the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week website. Each venue is listed in alphabetical order, containing the type of cuisine (American, Italian, etc.), along with available menus, maps, and phone numbers/links to make a quick reservation. The site also lists tourism and lodging information for out-of-towners to encourage especially booming business.
Not only is the two-week event favorable to hungry diners on a tight budget, but the benefits also extend to promoting our local farm economy. Hudson Valley Restaurant Week gives us decedent food from high end restaurants, affordable prices, and through the roof profit and publicity for local businesses—in short, everyone wins.
Take a look at our article from last year's Restaurant Week, containing insights from Valley Table publisher Janet Crawshaw and participating restaurant employers.